By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
COLUMBIA, Md.—Most change is so gradual, we hardly notice it happening, David Lee, BCM/D executive director, told General Mission Board (GMB) members at the Sept. 11 meeting at the Baptist Mission Resource Center. Some change is immediate, like Sept. 11, 2001. But in the midst of change, we must “stay at home,” Lee said, referring to a football term meaning to stay in the zone assigned. For BCM/D, Lee told GMB members, “home” is the mission: “intentionally assisting in the starting and strengthening of congregations so that together we can accomplish the Great Commission as given to us by our Lord in Matt. 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8.”
GMB members approved a $6 million 2013 BCM/D and a $1.9 million Skycroft budget. They heard highlights of how God is moving throughout the convention and praised God as David Jackson, BCM/D church multiplication missionary, told messengers the BCM/D was about to make history in church planting.
BCM/D missionary for music/worship, Bill Archer, led in worship.
GMB President Kerri Hinton, told of being on a mission trip in Belize and being dropped off in a village with a map. He and the students with him were afraid, but they prayed, trusted Jesus, and went on down the road where they found several people God had prepared to accept Him as Savior. Hinton referenced I John 2:6, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”
“Following Jesus is scary but that’s where the adventure is. The best fruit is at the end of the limb.”
Executive Director’s Report
“One of the fundamentals that you learn in Pee Wee football is this: stay home. That can feel really foolish when you are doing it. The whole line, the backs, the quarterback, everybody seems to be pulling in the opposite direction, but your assignment is ‘stay home.’ And then on a key third down play when the game is on the line, the opponent runs the reverse and there you are standing right where you were told to stay. You make the tackle. You win the day,” Lee challenged.
“Stay home” is good counsel in the midst of movement and change, he said. “Home for us is our mission.”
He added, “We must keep it about the mission. All the business we discuss and all the decisions we make should come through the filter of understanding and commitment to the mission assigned to us. We must stay at home. We must do our job.”
David Lee presented the financial report. Lee said Cooperative Program (CP) giving is about 2 percent below the projections for the year with $2,492,581.06.
Administrative Committee Report
GMB members approved a recommendation for a “strategic shift.” Lee explained the recommendation.
“We will focus on three areas instead of five,” Lee said, explaining that the mission remains the same, but the convention must focus differently in terms of how to “center” thinking and resources.
“We are operating with fewer financial resources and fewer staff. Despite the cutbacks, the impact of our cooperative effort has been significant. Growing needs, however, have stretched both personnel and dollars. In addition, associations have shifted their focus into areas that once were proprietary for BCM/D. We no longer need to fully resource these areas of duplication. National SBC resources have also shifted requiring us to give more of our time, attention and resources to areas on the local and regional front. Good leadership dictates that we focus human and financial resources in areas where they can have the most effective impact for the kingdom.”
The convention will concentrate its focus on: church multiplication, church wellness, and Acts 1:8 missions and evangelism.
GMB members also voted to change the wording in the BCM/D by-laws to match the Annual Church Profile report, reporting total church membership as opposed to resident membership.
In a comprehensive budget review, Lee explained that the Cooperative Program (CP) is still BCM/D’s lifeline. “Nearly 70 percent of our resources come through CP,” Lee said.
Lee said in 2008, Cooperative Program giving dropped. “We hoped 2012 would show an increase, but that is not happening as we hoped,” he said, adding that as of September, the projection for the year’s end is a $25,000 reduction in CP receipts.
To honor BCM/D’s goal to gradually increase the convention’s giving to the SBC and to ultimately be giving 51 percent by 2020, GMB members approved an amended 2013 budget authorizing .5 percent, instead of 1 percent sent to SBC.
Administrative Committee Chairman David Sandvick said the one percent contribution was based on CP staying the same or increasing, but it did not.
“The feeling was that we know we’re going to come up short and did not feel we could reach the goal of one percent this year,” Lee said.
After much discussion, Lee made a recommendation that a one-time transfer from the strategic reserves to cover the .5 percent, thus not affecting salaries or ministries.
“If the Lord blesses with funds for CP, will we still fund the remaining half percent?” Jim Jeffries, pastor of LaVale Baptist Church, asked. The answer was a resounding yes.
GMB members also passed the Skycroft budget. Doug DuBois, executive director of Skycroft and missionary for student evangelism, said Skycroft Conference Center has not only finished “in the black” since 1997, but has continued to add over $100,000 to the BCM/D general budget each year and is now averaging $150,000.
Samuel Cho, pastor of Nepal Baptist Church and Bhutan Baptist Church, asked if depreciation was considered in the Skycroft budget. DuBois said it is not. DuBois admitted that there is equipment in need of improvement. Lee said there is a discussion to have an ad hoc committee to study Skycroft’s budget and improvement needs.
DuBois said in 1996 the budget was $475,000. “You just approved a $1.9 million budget. In 1996 there were 8,450 users. In 2011 there were 16,510.”
DuBois said Skycroft is a place to do local misisons, train congregations, develop student leadership and promote church planting.
Strategy Team Reports
DuBois, in a report from the Missions Involvement Team, recalled meeting Bob Simpson, BCM/D associate executive director, in 2010 when Simpson offered Dubois the position of student evangelism missionary.
“That re-energized me for ministry,” said Dubois , who was formerly a youth pastor at Eldersburg Baptist Church and was excited at helping youth pastors.
DuBois reported that in eight weeks of summer camp at Skycroft, 900 students attended the teenage camps and 1,400 attended the children’s camps. One hundred fifty-nine students made decisions to accept Christ and 212 made other decisions, including recommitment and decisions for full-time ministry.
Twelve members of the summer staff team came from BCM/D churches and ten were campers from years past.
Mike McQuitty, BCM/D missionary of collegiate church planting, reporting from the Church Multiplication Team, said that 17,000 students are impacted by the Baptist Collegiate Ministry. Five hundred are regularly involved and 179 are participating in evangelism efforts. Twenty-four made decisions for Christ this year. There are nine active campus-based ministries, three of which began in 2011-12.
McQuitty led students on a mission trip to Cambodia. Students from Morgan State University, Towson University and University of Maryland, College Park, participated.
Other highlights include: Anne Arundel Community College campus ministry has expanded to three campuses. Colonial Baptist Church is taking an initiative to reach out to Stevenson University. First Baptist Church of Dover started a young adult and collegiate ministry. In addition, Ron Yost, campus minister at Frostburg University, is launching a church plant on campus. McQuitty explained that the BSM strategy is to expand and leverage the ministry toward church planting, starting new works through church-based ministries and creating innovative collegiate church planting models.
McQuitty said collegiate ministry is providing interns an opportunity to learn to share and become church planters. Salisbury campus minister, Adam Muhtasab, is serving through that model.
There is a continued priority, McQuitty said, to reach out to historically black colleges and universities.
“It will be a record year in church planting,” David Jackson, BCM/D missionary of church multiplication, told GMB members. Jackson, also reporting from the Church Multiplication Team, said 40 plants are underway as of the 37th week of the year. The highest number of church plants in the history of the convention is 41.
“It looks like God will blow the doors off of that!” Jackson said. All associations will have plants by the end of the year, Jackson said, adding that it is humbling and awe-inspiring.
“It’s all because of God. He has given us a wonderful opportunity to participate.”
The new churches reach ten people groups, including for the first time, Nigerian. Hopefully later this year, a Romanian work can also be included among the new groups reached. Two of the 40 new churches are a part of the Embrace Wilmington effort. Eight others are included in NAMB’s initial Send Baltimore efforts and 13 are a part of the area that will be within the Send D.C. initiative later this year.
Jackson said there are also seven “trailblazer” churches participating in a NAMB “church planting centers” pilot project.
“NAMB has been a great partner,” Jackson said. “They are committed to “join us where God is at work,” he said.
Mitch Dowell, executive director of Embrace Wilmington and director of missions for Delaware Baptist Association, said as Embrace Wilmington comes to a close at the end of this year, church planting continues to be a priority.
Dowell said one of the biggest challenges has been planting a church in the city, but through prayer, God led Hockessin Baptist Church to start something in Wilmington. The church opened LOMA, a coffee shop in the lower market area in Wilmington. Now the church is sending a team to plant a church on Market Street.
“It started out as a dream of a coffee shop. It has become what the church desired…a connection for people to come and talk about God.”
Dowell said the Hispanic church plant, Iglesia Nuevo Amanecer, continues to meet at Bethany Baptist Church and is reaching the Hispanic community.
John Coleman, pastor of everSpring Church in Bear, continues to baptize new converts. LifeHouse Church in Townsend is flourishing.
In addition, there are three potential church planters going through the assessment process.
“As Embrace comes to a close, the initiative will never stop. God has begun something and He’s not done. I’m honored to be a part of something bigger than me,” Dowell said.
John Schoff, president of the Baptist Foundation reported as of June 30, the market value of the investment portfolio was $6,534,094. The year-to-date return was 7.4 percent. The one-year portfolio performance reflected a return of (1.7 percent), due to a significant decline in market equity values for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, 2011.
New funds totaling $400,000 were invested with the Foundation by an affiliated church in 2012. See their website, www.bcmd.org/baptist-foundation for more information.
Debbie Marini, interim executive director of Baptist Family & Children’s Services (BFCS), said the BFCS staff has been serving God by keeping kids safe, stabilizing families and strengthening neighborhoods.
Marini reported eight locations for their back-to-school stores, providing 1,400 students with backpacks and school supplies. Seventy-five percent of the families served had never been to those churches before.
Several families were reunified thanks to the SAFE family program.
BFCS’s transitional housing supports two families in Howard and Western Maryland. The Baltimore City home is nearly ready. Marini said the constant challenge for the agency is to raise awareness and support.
‘‘It has been a day of blessing,” Ken Stalls said. Sometimes we need to stop what we are doing and praise Him. Stalls read the passage from Rev. 7:9-11. “All I can do is praise Him,” Stalls said.